5 Things To Do When You're Unemployed

by AnomalousArtist

Unemployment can strike anyone, at any time, and can be stressful. Here are some suggestions on what to do if you find yourself out of a job.

Part of the nature of the business I am in (animating on movies in Hollywood) is accepting that it's a "feast or famine" career. Either there is so much work you have no life at all or so little work you're not sure where you're next paycheck is coming from...or if it's coming at all. Working in this way means accepting those terms and making it work; the veterans who last in the business simply "find a way" and those who can't or decide they won't take it, leave it.

Part of "finding a way" is getting used to being laid off at regular intervals. When I was just starting out it was a bit nerve-wracking and I see a similar reaction in others who are new as well. Over the years, through experience and sharing stories with others, I've gotten much better at things. If you're in a business where you are unemployed now and then or if you've been working steadily and have just been laid off, here are some things you might want to keep in mind.

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1) Don't panic

It's often a shock to the system to find yourself unemployed, particularly if there was no warning.  It's a good idea to give yourself time to get over the shock, to grieve the loss of a job (even if you didn't like it it's a major change to leave a job you were used to working at), to go through the feelings of questioning why this happened, how you feel about it and what to do about it.  The most important thing is to "normalize" your situation--try not to make it out to be a catastrophe, understand that many people have gone through what YOU are going through and survived it.

2) File for unemployment

If you're eligible, file as soon as you know you're going to be unemployed--u.i. insurance takes about a week or so to kick in so you want to file right away.  The good news is that the days of sitting around in an uncomfortable building explaining to an irritable desk clerk that yes, you did look for a job this week, are long gone.  Nowadays it's almost TOO easy to file on-line and you can even set it up so there's no paper work to deal with at all. 

Different people have different ideas about the ethics of unemployment insurance but if you are eligible for it there's no reason not to file for it.  Hopefully it's a temporary solution that will bridge the gap until your next job.

3) Take your time

If you've been working non-stop for any length of time you're probably caught up in "work mode."  It can be a bit of a train wreck to suddenly find yourself with more time on your hands than you've had in awhile.  Now's a great time to take advantage of it!  Get some extra sleep, take time for a good meal or a long walk, start a regular exercise routine, work on a hobby or home improvement you've been putting off for awhile.  With the time you have you WILL get things done (including a pro-active job search) if you take things slowly and plan a little bit. 

4) Stay busy

While it's important to relax, it's also a good idea to keep yourself occupied when you're not working.  Some people like to act as if they're still at work even when they're not--get up at a regular, fairly early time, work on a project all day and call it quits in the evening and on weekends.  For some a more spontaneous schedule works.  Whatever you do, it's good to stay involved in something so you don't start thinking or worrying too much, which is easy to do when you have too much time on your hands.

Of course a great way to stay busy is to search for a new job!  But it's also a good idea to take a break from that too--do what you can then allow yourself to be free of job searching for awhile, there's only so much you can do in a day after all. 

5) Re-connect with friends

This is good for two reasons...first, it's great to have a support group around when you're going through a potentially trying time, secondly, having a network to communicate with could help you come up with your next job lead.  Again, now that you have the time, it's a great opportunity to solidify relationships with your friends and acquaintances, or even make some new ones!

7) Conclusion

Being unemployed can be frustrating, scary, upsetting or even a *good* thing, and how you take control of the time you have is key to how you're going to feel about it.  Why not turn it into an opportunity to evolve by seeing how much you can change/accomplish with your time off?  Eventually you WILL go back to work and will probably be a stronger person for it. 

If you have any unemployment thoughts, suggestions or stories I'd love to hear them!

Updated: 05/17/2013, AnomalousArtist
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